“I thought you said you’d never done this before.”
You shrug. “I haven’t.”
I feel sweat run from between my breasts, down my side, under my back. I shift onto my stomach and you try to look shy.
“You seem to know your way around a woman’s body pretty well.”
“And you said you don’t like complications.”
You’re nodding towards my bedside table. A solitaire and a plain gold band. It’s my turn to shrug.
“I don’t. Doesn’t mean I don’t have any though.”
I reach for water and you get up. Two minutes later, you’re dressed and picking up your keys.
“That was great.”
You run a finger down my leg and squeeze my toe. As you leave, I see you’ve left your jacket behind. I don’t call out. I want a reason to see you again.
Two days later and I’ve hung your jacket away. Paul hasn’t seen it, wouldn’t have noticed it was new if he had. But I don’t want him to know about it. It’s my secret. You’re my secret. When I’m alone I bury my face in the suede and inhale your scent, your hair, your skin.
I am taken by you.
A week goes by and I can’t get away from you. I dream you, I see you everywhere. I am obsessed. This isn’t the way it should be. I hadn’t considered falling for you. It was always just for fun, women always were. I married Paul for the other stuff. Security, companionship, his love – not so much mine. And if I’m honest, for his money. And for the sake of my parents. Marriage got them off my back. We were so young.
I never saw a future in women until you.
A fortnight later, you ring my doorbell.
“I left my jacket.”
You’ve cut your hair. I tell you I like it, though I think it’s sexier long.
I push your fringe out of your eyes. You take my hand away from your face.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“You came for your jacket.”
“You know what I mean.”
I raise myself up on one elbow and look at you. Your cheeks are flushed from heavy breathing, bare skin, breasts touching breasts, wet fingers, soft lips.
Such soft lips.
“Why did it take you so long to come back for your jacket?”
You wave your arm around the room.
I draw my leg back from where it lies touching you. When you leave, you double check you haven’t left anything behind.
You send me a bunch of white lilies. There is a note thanking me for looking after your jacket. It’s ridiculous of you, but they’re beautiful.
Paul arrives home, sees the flowers. He asks where I bought them. I wink.
He laughs, goes for a shower. While he bathes I caress the petals and imagine I’m touching your lips.
Those soft lips.
I have it bad.
In bed I feel Paul moving closer to me. I no longer like the feel of his scruffy beard on my back. I try not to pull away. He wants me but I can’t. I feel like I’m cheating on you.
The next morning, Paul doesn’t leave as early for work. He’s lingering. I know he’s bothered by last night’s rejection, though it’s not as though it’s a first. I don’t know what to say. I don’t trust myself to speak. His hurt is making me feel dirty.
I wish I could see you.
My sister has left her kid with me for the day. She wants to go to the park, and the dog needs walking. I am happy to escape the house.
Sitting on the seesaw, she watches as two teens in school uniform walk past holding hands. She says her teacher makes her hold the hand of a boy in her class when they walk to the library. She wants to know why they hold hands now.
“They’re in love.”
I tell her I agree.
Paul is home from work early. He wants to talk.
“Is everything okay?”
He looks around my office. He pulls a book from the shelf, flicks through a few pages, puts it back.
“You’ve got so many books. Have you even read them all?”
I shake my head.
“I’ve never really looked around your office. Strange, isn’t it?”
I try to smile, but I’m scared I’ll cry. His pupils quiver as he searches my face for a sign of, what? Guilt? Innocence? He knows, he must do. Or is my conscience just working overtime, making me panic?
“It’s cold in here. Want a drink?”
I follow him downstairs. The back of his neck is still handsome. It was the first thing I noticed about him, sitting behind him in class. His neck was beautiful. It still is. He’s starting to go a bit grey now. I like what it adds to his face.
Later, Paul and I make love. It is love, I love him very much. But I need to think about you before I can come. Afterwards, I lie awake thinking about you and Paul. He’d like you, if he didn’t know you’d fucked his wife. I fantasize about bringing you home, living with the both of you, a threesome. Guys love that shit, don’t they? Paul wouldn’t want to share me though. And I don’t want to share you.
I listen to Joan Armatrading in the car, hearing the torture in her lyrics.
“I have a lover…who loves me…how could I break such a heart…and still you get my attention…”
I want to scream.
I know! I get it!
When I get home Paul is sitting on the lounge room floor slugging a beer. I don’t think it’s his first. I assume he’s watching television, until I see the petals scattered over the carpet. He’s destroyed my flowers.
He knows, I see this now. Maybe because I was different in bed. I tried not to be, but I know I was. Less connected, slightly distant. I know I’ve changed.
Paul is desperate for answers, but he isn’t asking any questions. I sit next to him. He offers me his beer, grabs my hand as I take it from him. He kisses my ear. The intimacy makes me cry.
He doesn’t want details. Just reassurance. We lie on the floor, bodies intertwined and stay there, just feeling each other breathe.
I can’t keep seeing you. I have too much to lose.
Before bed I gather up the crushed petals, and throw them in the bin. This can’t go on.
Months later, I still think of you. I wonder if you know why I had to let you go. I’m sure you do. I tell myself I made the right decision.
It wouldn’t have worked anyway.
My mobile rings and I know it’s you before I even see the number.
“I probably shouldn’t be ringing you.”
We’ve been at this place before.